A gunman opened fire on two hookah bars near Frankfurt Wednesday night, killing nine people in an attack apparently targeting immigrants in the German city. The 43-year-old shooter, identified by German authorities as only Tobias R. for legal reasons, espoused far-right racist views in text and videos on the web, advocating for the elimination of minority ethnic groups and immigrants in Germany. German officials said they are treating the mass shooting, one of the deadliest in the country in years, as a terrorist attack.
The attack began in a hookah bar frequented by the immigrant community in Hanau, a city 16 miles east of Frankfurt, around 10 p.m. After opening fire into the Midnight shisha bar, the shooter then fled in a dark car to the Kesselstadt neighborhood, where the attack continued at the Arena Bar & Café. A seven-hour manhunt ensued, with police ultimately tracing the suspected gunman through witness statements and surveillance cameras to his home in the city. German authorities say the man returned to his apartment where he is believed to have shot himself and his 72-year-old mother. Both were found dead from gunshot wounds.
Local media reported the man suspected of carrying out the attack left a confession letter and a video, which have been recovered by police. The apparent xenophobic motive for the shooting again shines a spotlight on a troubling trend of far-right extremist politics in Germany, a country that has until recently been governed from the center. “While violent crime is relatively rare in Germany, the country has experienced a rise in far-right and Islamist terrorism as well as an organized-crime wave,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “According to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, far-right extremists committed 10,105 violent crimes in the last decade, as well as 83 murders since 1990. In comparison, Islamist terrorists killed 17 people in the same period. Around 12,000 people are listed as far-right extremists by law enforcement agencies in Germany. … Last Friday, federal prosecutors arrested 12 people as part of a probe into a far-right extremist group suspected of plotting attacks on politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims.”